September 30, 2006

Really, really unbelievable

Hat/tip to Marty for this from Molly Ivins:
Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006)
With a smug stroke of his pen, President Bush is set to wipe out a safeguard against illegal imprisonment that has endured as a cornerstone of legal justice since the Magna Carta.


This bill is not a national security issue—this is about torturing helpless human beings without any proof they are our enemies. Perhaps this could be considered if we knew the administration would use the power with enormous care and thoughtfulness. But of the over 700 prisoners sent to Gitmo, only 10 have ever been formally charged with anything. Among other things, this bill is a CYA for torture of the innocent that has already taken place.

Death by torture by Americans was first reported in 2003 in a New York Times article by Carlotta Gall. The military had announced the prisoner died of a heart attack, but when Gall saw the death certificate, written in English and issued by the military, it said the cause of death was homicide. The “heart attack” came after he had been beaten so often on this legs that they had “basically been pulpified,” according to the coroner.


The version of the detainee bill now in the Senate not only undoes much of the McCain-Warner-Graham work, but it is actually much worse than the administration’s first proposal. In one change, the original compromise language said a suspect had the right to “examine and respond to” all evidence used against him. The three senators said the clause was necessary to avoid secret trials. The bill has now dropped the word “examine” and left only “respond to.”

In another change, a clause said that evidence obtained outside the United States could be admitted in court even if it had been gathered without a search warrant. But the bill now drops the words “outside the United States,” which means prosecutors can ignore American legal standards on warrants.

The bill also expands the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant to cover anyone who has “has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.” Quick, define “purposefully and materially.” One person has already been charged with aiding terrorists because he sold a satellite TV package that includes the Hezbollah network.

The bill simply removes a suspect’s right to challenge his detention in court. This is a rule of law that goes back to the Magna Carta in 1215. That pretty much leaves the barn door open.

Read the rest and weep.

Update: Ivins references a story in the Columbia Journalism Review that examines how Carlotta Gall's story never recieved the attention it should have in the lead up to the war. Make no mistake about it, Abu Ghraib was not unique, nor was it just a few "bad apples."
As it happens, two years later the Times uncovered military investigative files on the Bagram case detailing just how big a story had been buried. The files, the Times reported on May 20, 2005, offered “ample testimony that harsh treatment by some interrogators was routine and that guards could strike shackled detainees with virtual impunity.” The beatings and other interrogation tactics — prisoners deprived of sleep, threatened with dogs, and sexually humiliated — were later used at Abu Ghraib. Dilawar, who officials later acknowledged was innocent, had been repeatedly hit with a “common peroneal strike” — a blow just above the knee. The result, a coroner later testified, was that his legs had “basically been pulpified.” The Times also reported that officers who had overseen the Bagram prison at the time were promoted; another, who had lied to investigators, was transferred to help oversee interrogations at Abu Ghraib and awarded a Bronze Star. [emphasis mine]

Way to go Southern Baptists

I feared this was true. Richard Land says that the SBC is still behind the President in huge numbers and that Iraq is one of our nobler moments in history. Evidently, some 42 percent of white evangelicals actually disapprove of the Prez
"But Land contends Bush has lost less support from Southern Baptists than 'virtually any other constituency.' The Nashville-based SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. with over 16 million members.

'I don't think there's any question that the vast majority of Southern Baptists still strongly support this president and his policies,' Land said.

Southern Baptists have been among the most vocal of conservative Christian groups in support of the Bush administration.

The president has spoken by video link to the Southern Baptist national convention three times in recent years and outgoing SBC President Jack Graham called the president 'a man of personal faith whose leadership is great for America.'"
A man of personal faith who wants to torture and not be questioned about it. A man of faith who misleads the American public on how badly Iraq is going, and looks the other way while Afghanistan slides back under the Taliban.

But a big old "thumbs up" to the SBC for sticking to their guns. Nothing like repeating your old cover story as if it is still true. Nothing like ignoring torture and incompetence. Hey, who the hell cares about those things, anyway? Well, evidently the SBC. As long as they get a few occasional "people are praying for me" or "I trust God" or "Jesus is my favorite philosopher," they will "stay the course."


September 29, 2006

Clintonzilla attacks! Run away! Run away!

Some humor. Well, not for Bushies, but hey, that isn't my job.

SOF alerted me to this column by Jon Carroll about the Clinton battle with Chris Wallace. I am pretty convinced, btw, that Clinton was not surprised in the least and the ambush was, in fact, of Fox and the Republicans. But here is a pretty good take on Clinton as the "only Democratic politician the right is afraid of:"
"He was elected to the presidency twice, and neither of his elections was rigged, so already that puts him ahead of the incumbent. And his popularity means that the red-state Americans do not entirely buy into the right-wing view of the world, which means that saying '9/11' over and over again may not be a good permanent re-election strategy.
I keep reminding myself that Clinton enjoyed a 70% approval rating after impeachment. For all the talk about radical leftists, Bush's supporters are the fringe.

Speaking of fringe:
In the wake of the interview, the Fox people tried to spin it as, 'Ooo, Clinton got angry. He lost it.' Hell, yeah, he got angry. When your character is attacked and your views misrepresented on national television, getting angry is an appropriate response. A lot of us have been waiting for a long time for someone to get angry enough to fight back.

And Clinton didn't lose it; he found it. He didn't get sputtery and inarticulate; he got eloquent.


Seeing Bill CLINTON do it was even better. Oh, look, it's the boogeyman; run, little talking heads.

I certainly do hope that the Democrats took the hint. George Bush is right; appeasement doesn't work. Trying to get into a dialogue with neocon ideologues is a chump's game. Don't pretend they're just like regular politicians; they're not. They don't care what you think. And I've been hearing what they think for a long time, and I don't need to hear it anymore."


September 28, 2006

I give up

I fought depression all week. Not sure why. Maybe simple fatigue. Maybe sinus problems.

The political scene does not help. A Republican friend this week told me that it was really the Democrats fault. If we had nominated a reasonable alternative, Republicans would have been able to vote for someone other than Torture McGee.

Yeah, that's right. Completely out of power, but it is still the Democrats fault.


Bush guts our constitution, and the Republicans in the House and Senate assist him. Bush goes on campaign speech where he says that the party of Roosevelt has become the party of "cut and run."

Meanwhile Bob Woodward (who long ago traded in his credentials for fame) reports that the violence in Iraq is unbelievably worse than the Administration admits. Somewhere around 100 attacks a day and growing. But George "Jesus" Bush can stand and berate Democrats.

Republicans pass a law that made former Soviets stand up and say, "Hey, that looks ok" and he can berate us? Habeus Corpus gone. The Pentagon and Bush given the power to define torture AND who is an enemy combatant. But it is us, the lowly and morally challenged Democrats who are the problem.

And the church. Streak, what about the conservative Church? The one who taught you your values? What do they say? Well, I am glad you asked. James Dobson is still talking about the gays marrying and rallying the evangelicals to the polls to defend our morally challenged President. Jerry "Fatty" Falwell says that God will help the GOP retain power. Meanwhile, no conservative evangelical has addressed torture. Oh well. WWJD?

Speaking of the asshats with the Bible. They love to spread around the "pass-on emails" that alert the faithful to the most recent political challenge. I would respect that if any of them--JUST ONE--actually addressed poverty or people in real pain. Instead, they parrot the GOP on terrorism, demonize liberals, or lament that the brown people are coming over the border.

The denomination and faith of my youth is defending torture, demonizing immigrants, ignoring constitutional attacks, and abetting an incompetent, and morally challenged dope.


Where is our Democracy?

The blind leading the willing. By Dahlia Lithwick - Slate Magazine: "But passage of the new detainee legislation will be a different sort of watershed. Now we are affirmatively asking to be left in the dark. Instead of torture we were unaware of, we are sanctioning torture we'll never hear about. Instead of detainees we didn't care about, we are authorizing detentions we'll never know about. Instead of being misled by the president, we will be blind and powerless by our own choice. And that is a shame on us all."

September 27, 2006


From TPM: "House candidate Tammy Duckworth (D), the Iraq War vet who lost both her legs in combat, responds to opponent Peter Roskam's (R) charge that she wants to 'cut and run' from Iraq."

Once again, Republicans go after a veteran who has earned just a little respect.

September 25, 2006

don't let me do that again

I always know that watching Bill Maher is a difficult task. Depending on the panel, it can be either good or horrible. This one was actually just disturbing (though illuminating). Sandy Rios was the conservative and she was amazing. By amazing, I mean unbelievable. She said that all of Al Qaeda's leadership had been killed (to be fair, perhaps this was before the NIE leak that suggested that terrorism has exploded because of the Iraq war) which is partially true, but not really the point. If they have 4 or 5 people joining terrorist organizations for everyone we kill, well, you do the math.

Worse, I think, was her stance on torture. Rios, as it turns out, was the president of Concerned Women for America, so came on the show as a Christian and Fox contributor. When pressed on torture, she agreed it was bad, but simply said that it was not torture! In other words, she reiterated the Bush administration's point that if they survive the encounter, then it can't be torture.

Unbelievable. At one point Maher, who is an atheist, actually rubbed his eyes in disbelief as he noted the problem of Christians supporting torture. She stood by it--insisting that we had to do it to save american lives and that it wasn't torture, it was "coercion." She told the story of a child molester in Germany that was tortured to find a kidnapped child, but the information came too late. Message, it is ok, as long as we get what we want.

It is one of my great concerns. Christians have so lost their moral compass voting for this President that they now justify torture and see no problem with it. (I asked my SBC critic if it was his stance that we didn't do things like waterboarding, or that he thought that waterboarding was not torture To date, I have not received an answer. I am afraid that Rios put the argument forward. As long as organ failure or death does not occur, the Conservative Christian leaders of America think "whatever works.")

Bradley Whitefield kept saying that Iraq had lost 130,000 civilians since we invaded. Maher noted that the UN thinks that torture is more rampant than when Saddam was in power. Rios thinks that we are on the right track. She even said that the 130,000 civilians were exactly who we were trying to save from Saddam's non-existent nuclear (sorry, nukular) weapons.

Wrap your mind around that one. We disrupt a country, cause (mostly indirectly) over 100,000 deaths, but say that we were justified because we were trying to save lives.


Liberal media?

Holy crap! Everyone who complains about our so-called liberal media should look at this. What a poignant display of why we are in trouble. Rest of the world understands our problems more than we do.


Oh Really?

Yeah, I thought for sure that even though our President has run the most incompetent administration in recent memory--or historical memory, that for sure the war in Iraq would be successful. Right? And even if there weren't WMD, it would be better for the world, right?

Turns out not so much:
"The war in Iraq has become a primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic extremists, motivating a new generation of potential terrorists around the world whose numbers may be increasing faster than the United States and its allies can reduce the threat, U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded."

Of course, Twitchy and his staff are saying that this is misleading and the rest of the report (which is classified, of course) shows the effectiveness of our President's little war. But we aren't going to show it to you. Until after the election. When we need it to justify some attack on Iran.

In the meantime, look behind you! There is a terrorist/immigrant/gay/abortion/stem cell that wants to do you harm! Run away! Run from the ballot box and your brain telling you that Republicans are IDIOTS!

Republicans want you to fear. Democrats want you to Think!

September 24, 2006

Couple of political notes

First, check out this provocative article at Salon linked from Crooks and Liars about how Democrats may be giving Rove way too much credit. Worth thinking about.

Second, I finally watched the Chris Wallace interview of Clinton (also at C & L). I wish he hadn't said a few things, but he was clearly irked and handled himself better than I would have in the same situation. In other words, I wish he hadn't accused Wallace of having a smirk on his face--Wallace always has a smirk on his face. But calling him on the conservative hatchet job and the continued misrepresentation of the Clinton years was great and long overdue. I am sure that Clinton thinks that he shouldn't have to do that, but with the malignancy called the press, and a general weakness from other prominent Democrats, he had to. And he can. He can speak out.

Josh Marshall watched it and said that it was nice to see someone who profoundly "gets" politics. I agree.

This interview will be roundly mocked by those who think that Ann Coulter is reasoned, but liberals should take this as a charge to defend our views with honesty, civility, and clarity.

Go therefore and call them on their lies. Every Republican should be reminded that they are voting for torture. Every Bush supporter should be asked why they wanted the rule of law under Clinton, but not now.


Falwell at it again

I wish I could say that there is only one reason I no longer respect conservative evangelicals, but the list is far too lengthy. You know, defending and joking about torture, then quoting scripture to defend Bush? Well, everytime that Falwell speaks, there is an opportunity for Grownup Evangelicals to repudiate him and his ilk.

Well, here is another chance. The fat man compares Hilary to the devil (see, that is only wrong when Chavez does it with Bush) and stokes up his sheep followers. Then he gave us an example of his "theology:"
"Falwell predicted that this year's midterm elections would go in the GOP's favor, despite polls showing Democrats in position to make gains.

'I think we're going to keep the House and the Senate,' he said. 'I think the Lord will take care of that.'"

Yep. God is a Republican. But any God who endorses torture and the lies of people like Rove is a God I don't want to know.

Waiting. To be fair, I know for a fact that many evangelicals find this language disconcerting. How about writing the fat man a letter? How about making sure that your local Republican party knows that this is unacceptable?

Time to step up. Every one of the religious right leaders--the ones most often quoted in the media--are a laughingstock and do more to undermine the mission of the evangelical church than anything. Yet, evangelicals continue to tacitly endorse him.

September 23, 2006

I miss Bill part 2

I love this stupid question from Chris Wallace in his attempted ambush interview with Bill:
"CW: Do you think the White House and the republicans want to make the American people afraid?

WJC: Of course they do. They want another homeland security bill and they want to make it not about Iraq but some other security issue. Where if we disagree with them we are by definition endangering the security of the country. "

Maybe this is what we need as Democrats--someone to speak angrily to stupidity. There is no doubt that the Republicans prefer a fearful America who is then willing not only to vote against Democrats as possibly unAmerican, but also willing to allow this President to further strip Americans of rights. Oh, and also torture the hell out of any one who gets caught in their net.

I miss Bill

Bill Clinton is back in the news working on his Global Initiative. He was on the Daily Show the other night, then Olbermann, and tomorrow on Fox News (evidently) he gives Chris Wallace a pretty good lecture on the Unfair and Unbalanced Faux news approach. The transcript suggests he very clearly defends his administration's efforts to catch Bin Laden.

Anyway, his response and approach to politics is so sorely missed. I know all the problems with the man. I know how embarrassed I was when his sexual infidelity became the news. I know how frustrated I was when he made compromises that I thought undermined the progressive movement. But he very rarely tried to divide us. He very rarely tried to scare us.

We have been talking about the Bush administration's approach to politics and governing. I think even honest Repubs would concede that Bush likes to scare us. That is part of his approach. There is an abusive tendency there--one that uses intimidation, undermines confidence, emphaiszes divisiveness, questions loyalty, and above all, relies on fear to control people. Perhaps we should not be surprised when they actualy favor physical abuse and violence as a solution to problems.

September 22, 2006


I know, I know.

Watching Olbermann tonight. Jonathan Turley notes that the Senate compromise bars American courts from recognizing the Geneva Conventions. Well, not completely. They can reference them if another country breaks the conventions, but not when WE FUCKING DO!

Please, tell me why I shouldn't move to Canada right now? Tell me why this embarassment of a President thinks that waterboarding is a legitimate technique? Tell me why the American public haven't repudiated him completely. Tell me that we still retain some element of American values. Please. I am begging you.

Rumors are afloat that Bush is marshalling our forces to attack Iran before the election. Please tell me that he will pay for being a war criminal if he does this. Please tell me that we will pass federal legislation apologizing to Clinton and begging interns to "help us out" with Bush. Tell me we care about morals and values and peace and justice. Please tell me that we don't waterboard people or house them in fucking gulags.

Please tell me. I am damn near begging.

Just a reminder

Of the tactics that our President wants to defend and make legal. I remind you of The Case of Maher Arar:
After a two-year investigation, the Canadian government issued a report this week regarding the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen who was abducted by the Bush administration during a layover at JFK Airport on his way home to Canada, and then brought to Syria to be "interrogated." He was kept in a tiny cell for the next 10 months in Syria and was repeatedly tortured. All along, he was guilty of nothing and had no ties of any kind to terrorism.

[..]Despite the stonewalling and coverup by the Bush administration, the Canadian report was able to conclude "categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offense." It also found that both the American government and the Syrian government lied to Canada about Arar’s whereabouts because they knew the Canadians would object to their citizen being brought to Syria to be tortured. Put another way, our government abducted a completely innocent Canadian citizen and deliberately caused him to subjected, in Syria, to the most brutal and inhumane treatment imaginable (where, among other things, he confessed under torture to training in an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan even though he was never in that country).

Of course, we can't really trust the Canadians with their communist health care system and odd style of bacon, but perhaps we should pay attention when this is just the latest bit of evidence that our President defends and approves of torture.

And speaking of the Torturer in Chief, the Democrats let us down again and, in the words of the Nation's Ari Berman: H/T Faithful Progressive:
"Democrats chose to outsource their policy on military tribunals to John McCain. And McCain did what he's done best the last year: capitulate to Bush."

I may need to buy this book

And if our people can't decide to vote against a torturer, I may need to display this book everywhere to remind me.

Humor on Friday evening

I cleaned out my blogs and forgot to resubscribe to Opinions You Should Have. But it is back and with a gem:
"President Bush and the White House are involved in intense negotiations over the final shape of a bill that Bush will not follow once it becomes law.

'It is very important to the President that he and the Senate agree on the precise contents of the law he will not be obeying,' said White House spokesman Tony Snow, explaining the President's particular interest in the negotations."

Though it would be funnier if it were so damn true.

"Fantasyland debate"

The best explanation yet on why people like my SBC critic make jokes about torture.

Faithful Progressive: Americans Do Not Torture--Or Do They?: "The word 'torture' is barely ever used in this debate because the administration has decreed that the methods it uses do not constitute torture. Following dutifully along, the media uses every euphemism possible to describe these interrogation methods in a way that obscures what they really are. One searches in vain even to find the word 'torture' in most major media accounts reporting on the interrogation legislation. The issue that is really being decided has been completely whitewashed from the debate by virtue of the government's semantic maneuvers and the media's full-scale cooperation with them.

What we have, then, is a fantasyland debate. Most Americans oppose torture and oppose repudiation of the Geneva Conventions. And Bush administration officials are aggressively advocating both. But they deny that they are doing so, claiming they use only 'alternative interrogation techniques' that fall short of torture and they are merely seeking 'clarification,' not repudiation, of the Conventions."

Orwell strikes again. We don't torture because we simply change what the word "torture" means. Heh. When Clinton did that about sex, he was impeached. But Bush can make allowances for waterboarding and my SBC critic jokes about torture.


Oh, this is funny

Billo, as it turns outhas delusions of grandeur. Just read the post. Billo thinks that Al Qaeda hates him specifically. What an idiot. Sorry, SBCDude, your sexual harrassing, megalomania loudmouth is also delusional. But go ahead and watch him, by all means. No need to actually address facts or evidence. As long as the blowhard one will tell you what to think about torture and the rest, all is well.

Compromise, Bush style

When Bush compromises, that usually means that the other side agrees to do things his way. After all, he knows best, right?

The Senate came to a compromise that, in accordance with Washington rules, every side is claiming victory. I had hoped that the Grownup Republicans would rein in Bush's "I should be able to torture all the people I want" mentality. But they caved:
But the senators who have fought to rein in the administration's excesses -- led by Sens. McCain, Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.) -- failed to break Mr. Bush's commitment to "alternative" methods that virtually every senior officer of the U.S. military regards as unreliable, counterproductive and dangerous for Americans who may be captured by hostile governments.

Mr. Bush wanted Congress to formally approve these practices and to declare them consistent with the Geneva Conventions. It will not. But it will not stop him either, if the legislation is passed in the form agreed on yesterday. Mr. Bush will go down in history for his embrace of torture and bear responsibility for the enormous damage that has caused.

Shorter version from Josh Marshall: "we agreed not to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, only to continue violating them. " Or, as he noted, like "Pilate washing his hands." (Perhaps a good image for my SBC friend to think about.)

This isn't moral. This isn't just. And it isn't America.

September 21, 2006


I just had a conversation with an SBC person about torture. He quoted scripture to suggest that the state has the right to, as I think he put it, "wield the sword" and then characterized torture as making inmates listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That's right, this whole debate about torture not only emboldens the enemies, it is so ridiculous that it is the same thing that happens to parents throughout America when their kids discover loud rock music.

This is all a joke to them. As Zalm's great post noted, the idea of "turning the other cheek" or "loving our enemies" is so completely other-worldly that those words only appear in the mouths of people like Falwell saying something like, "we will love our enemies as we blow them away in the name of the lord." [rough quote from memory] Not only do they not even ask about the command to "love their enemies" they genuinely don't care about these people--many of whom are innocent people in the wrong place--and think that their mistreatment is no big deal. They have so completely internalized the President's logic that they think that as long as the inmate is still alive, no problem. Except, of course, we have killed many in the process of torture. And the issues of torture are horrifying--as intellectually honest people have acknowledged. True people of moral character are actually very distraught by this and trying to figure out how to address it. Others don't even bother and make jokes about it.

I said in this conversation that this lack of moral discernment was very disappointing to me--that if evangelicals can't stand up against torture, then why should anyone take their moral voice seriously? It still seems like a good question to me. And the fact is, they know it. If they have to twist the argument so it is playing music too loud, then they know that waterboarding and fake burials are affronts to our morality, our faith, and our very conscience. They know it, because otherwise, they wouldn't employ the Rush Limbaugh school of argument.

How am I supposed to address this? I mean that as an honest question--not snark. How do we address this moral issue in this context?

Jesus and Torture

Zalm has a great post:
A certain ruler came to Him, saying “You are my favorite philosopher. Tell me, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

And He replied, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”

But the ruler wanted to clarify things, so he asked Him, “And who is my enemy? I mean, you certainly can’t mean that I should love some of the evildoers that are out there.”

But of course, Jesus was notoriously weak on defense.

Better late than never, I guess

Scary stuff from Jesus Camp

Watch this and tell me those images of screaming children don't remind you of fascism.

September 20, 2006


I posted a pretty angry rant on torture earlier. Took it down because I think it was not my best stuff.

I am still mad, don't get me wrong. Saw Dr. Senator Frist on yesterday--mimicking the President. Asked by Chris Matthews about water-boarding, he refused--said he wouldnt' talk about specific methods. How about talk about your oath--the first part "First do no harm."

Not sure how to address this. It is one thing to disagree over policy. Seems like we used to all agree that torture was bad. That seemed a baseline. If that is gone, what do we agree on?


September 19, 2006

Jesus Camp--holy crap

I tried to post this video from YouTube, but it hasn't shown up yet. When it does, there might be two for a while. :) Sorry about that.

I think you can follow the link here if you don't want to wait. This is an ABC report on the film and camp, and it scared me. Little kids shouting the "under god" part as if they are a member of the Hitler Youth. Or Muslim extremists. Kids weeping about abortion and their "faith." Kids shouting and weeping with images of George "The torturer in Chief" Bush against an American flag backdrop.

This is incredibly frightening for our country. Instead of making us more moral, it will make us more polarized. I don't see much Christ in this "Jesus Camp" and that saddens me. I grew up in a pretty conservative church, and yes, we sang the "Onward Christian Soldiers" song in VBS that I now find quite inappropriate. But my exposure to the faith, while flawed by certain pastors was largely positive.

(One who beat his kids with a coal shovel in front of me, and the other who lectured me on why boys over the age of 12 should not "cry, drink milk, or have long hair." This last one, btw, was my first introduction to the young earth argument.)

But those pastors were clearly anomalies. My church family was a good one. The military images were muted and the push for peace and compassion was important. Loving other people (not in a hippie way) was encouraged. We were not told to disengage from the culture or other faiths, and my best friend at the time was a Jehovah's Witness.

Watching the kids in this video makes me ill. It is, in no way, what the church was to me as a youth, or what it should be as an adult. Brainwashing children is abuse.

Update: Educat saw the film and shares her thoughtful comments. And from her post, the link to Rev Dan's comments.

I should have stayed in Austin....

But their president also tortures. And no, I am not letting this go. I am not going to stop talking about the huge, gigantic, enormous moral contradiction (apologies to Nathan) between the Christian Right's own President and the act of torturing other human beings. Humans, as it turns out, who might or very well might not be terrorists. And if we don't do it ourself, then we will simply outsource the job:
"For the last four years, the United States has been (and still is) a country which kidnaps other countries' innocent citizens (including those of its own allies); brings them to Jordan, Syria and Egypt to be tortured (sometimes for as long as a year); lies to its allies about what it is doing with their citizens; and then, when the innocent citizens are finally released and they go to an American court to try to obtain compensation from the U.S. government for their disappearance and torture, the Bush administration tells the federal judge that the case must be summarily dismissed because national security would be harmed if the administration were held accountable in a court (and the courts then comply)."

Pardon my outrage. And perhaps it is a good thing that I still feel it. So many Americans simply don't care about this issue. Our moral authority on a world level is gone.

It is enough to make me weep for my country. And weep more for those who profess Christianity yet don't seem to mind the case of Maher Arar--one of those innocents who was taken to Syria (axis of Evil) by our own government where he was beaten repeatedly. Finally, even Syria decided he wasn't a terrorist.


September 18, 2006

George "Torture" Bush

The Belgravia Dispatch: Mr. President: Don't You Dare Disband The CIA Interrogation Program: "Bush, like a petulant adolescent who risks not having his way, is threatening to shut down the entire CIA progam if his gutting of portions of Article 3 doesn't prevail through Congress. Then, the cowardly pro-torture crowd, should god forbid a terror attack subsequently occur, will blame those noted anti-American appeasers and defeatists like John Warner, Colin Powell, Jack Vessey, Lindsay Graham and John McCain for allowing the carnage."

And, speaking of the cowardly pro-torture crowd, Sully again:
"Bill Kristol urges the Republicans to campaign on torturing military detainees. It could indeed shore up parts of the base. The capitulation of neoconservatism to the evil it once fought against is now complete."

I grew up during the end of the cold war. I remember well the demarcations between us and the Soviets. We held to the rule of law; they had kangaroo courts. We obeyed, again, the rule of law (including international agreement); they could not be trusted and used torture. We believed in freedom; they used gulags to house the tortured.

Every day, I am sickedned by the rhetoric from the conservatives in this country. American values are gone--and they are waving the bloody shirt of 9-11 in our face. Dare to oppose torture, and we are terrorist appeasers. Never mind that torure is ineffective. Never mind that it is immoral. We have God's own President on board, and say what you will, George T. Bush never changes his mind. He stands on convinction. Just as sternly as he told us that Jesus was his favorite philosopher, he now stands on the right to torture possible suspects.

Dobson's thugs

From Sully, this from Dick Armey:
"Where in the hell did this Terri Schiavo thing come from? There's not a conservative, Constitution-loving, separation-of-powers guy alive in the world that could have wanted that bill on the floor. That was pure, blatant pandering to [Focus on the Family President] James Dobson. That's all that was. It was silly, stupid, and irresponsible. Nobody serious about the Constitution would do that. But the question was will this energize our Christian conservative base for the next election ...

Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies. I pray devoutly every day, but being a Christian is no excuse for being stupid. There's a high demagoguery coefficient to issues like prayer in schools. Demagoguery doesn't work unless it's dumb, shallow as water on a plate. These issues are easy for the intellectually lazy and can appeal to a large demographic. These issues become bigger than life, largely because they're easy. There ain't no thinking."

Turning into a one-note band

But come on! Hat Tip to The Anti-Manichaeist for this from TPM:
If you were to pick the single greatest hypocrisy of the Bush Presidency, wouldn’t it have to be this: that the man who ostentatiously claims Jesus as his favorite philosopher (he of “do unto others as ye would have them do unto you” fame) would say, in all seriousness, “Common Article III says that there will be no outrages upon human dignity. It’s very vague. “What does that mean, ‘outrages upon human dignity’?”

It begins and ends with torture. If torture isn't wrong under Christian "values" then there are no Christian values. What issues about life? Who cares about abortion if you don't mind people being tortured to death? Who cares about sexual sins if you think waterboarding is ok?

You want to talk about desensitizing our culture to violence and aggression? Tell me how excusing this activity can be helpful to a culture that already seems to lack compassion?

Here is a slogan for the Dems this year: "George W. Bush: The "W" stands for "torture""

September 17, 2006

End of the festival

Like my live blog said, Kathleen was great. If you aren't listening to her, then you should. KT Tunstall was also really impressive. I didn't know she was Scottish. (If it's not Scottish, it's crap!)

And it did rain like a motherf*&ker. It was really nice and cool most of the early afternoon, only heating up later around 4 when it was pretty steamy. (Man, did I say that Kathleen was great?)

After that, moved on to Jose Gonzales who was very impressive, though way too subdued for a music festival. Went from there to Patrice Pike, a local favorite. She was fun, though she didn't really grab us. Circled over to an oddity band called "White Ghost Shivers" who crossed 1920s sound and vaudeville acts with a modern love of the f-word. I found myself entranced.

Then we moved over to the New Pornographers, who were worth the wait. The band before them (Ween) annoyed me. But the NP's were great, and Neko was there! And man, can she sing. Holy shit. Initially, she complained of not having the proper monitor settings and joked that she was freezing. At one point, she suggested, er... performing a certain act if she could get the monitor situation fixed. She was kidding, as she noted herself.

Anyway, the New Pornographers made the top list for both of us. We then moved on to the Greencards who were hopelessly overpowered by Ben Harper (almost criminally) though still amazed us. After that we were beat. Done. Stick a fork in us.

But the post this morning stuck with me. (Still pondering Bush's opening phrase, "I recently read a book on Lincoln" which is clearly a lie unless Lynn Cheney recently wrote a special children's book for Bush.) I decided that the moral lessons I learned as a wee lad in Scotland were over-rated. Our president had shown us the way. So, when I saw an Oregon Ducks fan, I beat the ever living shit out of him, shouting the entire time "I will show you an onside kick!"

No I didn't.

But I did see a Bush supporter and decided to act. I waterboarded him right there in Barton Springs. I am new to it (no training) and might have drowned the guy, but I think he told me where Usama Bin Laden is hiding. As it turns out, he manages a Walmart in Harlingen, Texas. Who knew? (But his immigrant workers are as exploited as the others.)

Ok, that part is made up too.

But I did seriously consider relocating to a country where the people are not so stupid. And I really do think that the people will respond to Bush's latest bullshit and convince themselves that Bush is ok. And I will have to consider renouncing my American citizenship and moving to a country that has smarter people. Like England. Or Canada. Hell, maybe France.

Americans who think that Bush is Lincolnesque really are a danger. They should not be allowed to drive, much less vote.

Sigh. Without music, I would be a very angry person. :)

ACL live blogging

This is wild, but we are in a digital cafe at the festival. Just heard Kathleen Edwards and she was well worth the wait. Great set and great sound. Something about that voice.

We are now hearing Sam Roberts, a band from Montreal, and they are a nice festival surprise. Great rock sound. On our way to KT Tunstall, and then Jack Ingram, Patrice Pike and the New Pornographers (with, supposedly, Neko herself).

Oh, and it rained like a mf this morning. Everything was drenched, reinforcing the need for wicking clothing. Helped out tremendously. We are both dry and comfortable. Wish you were here.

Bush and Lincoln?

Yeah, just saw this morning that our idiot president compared himself to Lincoln AND tried to reassure the thumper crowd that God was in charge of his presidency. He said that we might be experiencing a Third Awakening like that under Lincoln. The fact that the Second Awakening was well before Lincoln is irrelevant to a President this dumb. Or cagy. Or immoral. Got to invoke the proper religiousity for the idiots. Got to assure them that he is still a "Man of God." No matter that his historical knowledge is worse than a high school freshman. No matter that this supposed Man of God tortures people and defends it. NO matter that he treats all his political enemies like shit. No matter. Up is down. Black is white. Bush is a "man of God" like Lincoln?

Very Rovian. And very much counting on the thumpers in the pews to not really know or care about actual history. Or, for that matter, how a real Christian President might actually act.

This is more than a sigh. This is a retch. Shame on anyone who falls for this. But, like I said the other day, if your knowledge is all from "faith" then you can believe that Bush is a genius and a Moses figure. Instead, he is a Machiavellian. I have said this before, but if Bush is what is considered a man of God, then count me out!

September 16, 2006

ACL continued

First, sorry to Zalm. The day was just too damn long. And the crush of people too much.

But it was a good day anyway. Started with Centro-Matic early in the afternoon and they did not disappoint. Great voice--perhaps one of the best in the biz, and good songs. They played one (I believe "Covered up in Mines") dedicated to the "Great Ann Richards." Great song, and it was a nice touch. Saw a guy with an Ann Richards t-shirt later. Had the thought that if Chimpy speaks at Ann's funeral, it should be a three word speech: "I am sorry."

Back to the festival. Next we ran around the arts and crafts part, and listened to a band called "Ghostland Observatory." They were intriguing for about 10 minutes, but played for 60. Oh well. Back to the AT&T stage for Ben Kweller. This was an event, I tell you.

Bleeding stops Kweller | ACL Festival - General: "Poor Ben Kweller. Just before he came onstage, he got a double nosebleed, delaying his Saturday AT&T Stage set for 10 minutes. And it didn't stop once he started performing. Grabbing a towel, the
Texas-raised 25-year-old declared, "I feel like Nolan Ryan" (after the baseball player's famous ball smack to the face), and promised, "I'll do this until it gets too disgusting."

"If you don't care, I don't care," he added. "I'm not gonna bleed to death in front of you."
Except that isn't what he said. He said, "I will fucking bleed to death in front of you." As you see from the pic, he used a, ah... alternative method for stopping the bleeding until it expanded too much. After blood on the guitar and piano, he called it quits. Damn shame because he sounded great.

From there it was just too crowded to even move. Off to Nada Surf (who was completely unimpressive. And the crowd was really, ah...crowdy.

From there, we fought our way back to hear the Shins (and they sounded great) but again, the crowds. We were very far back and the bass was a bit distorted back there. Streak started looking more than a little rough and tired. He decided to try some beer which helped (a little). Never fear, that is perfectly legal, which should be noted, because during our viewing of Centro-matic, we observed people smoking something that was not tobacco.

We ended the day with Calexico who was very impressive. Almost enough to blunt the fact that Oregon beat OU on multiple bad calls.

Good day, though. Good day. Oh... Pizza is here. Later


Not that Bush's Christian supporters really ask that, but if they were, how do they deal with a man who does stuff like this? Recent Posts by Eric Kleefeld | TPMCafe: "Bush Won't Question Critics' Patriotism -- But Others Can:
There was a great moment at President Bush's press conference today that's passed completely unnoticed. Asked about GOP Rep. John Boehner's recent remark that Dems might rather protect terrorists than protect Americans, Bush started off by saying that no one should ever question critics' patriotism—then quickly corrected himself to say that he would never question critics' patriotism. His answer: "No one should ever question the patriotism of somebody who—let me just start over—I don't question the patriotism of somebody who doesn't agree with me." So did Bush just unwittingly give away the game by revealing that he'll happily look the other way while others question his critics' patriotism, as he remains above the fray?

Kind of like Jesus saying to people, "Personally, I would turn the other cheek, but my disciples have to do what they have to do."


I know, I know. I need to go listen to music and get away from politics. But it is hard to do. Hard to do when you read stories like this one and realize that people like Bush respond to military heroes like Colin Powell by dismissing them. They (you know, veterans, people with experience, etc) are mistaken! But Chimpy, who's experience during VN is most likely a drunken blur knows better!

Sigh. Sigh.

There was a time when I thought that Betty Bible and Pastor John would listen to Colin Powell over someone like George W. Bush. No longer.


Politics still intrude, eh?

Saw this morning that some of the GOP tactics aren't working, but Bush's poll numbers have gone up a little. They hit 40.

Yet, everywhere I look, everyone rolls their eyes at Bush. Republicans disagree with him on torture and Homeland Security. People close to the situation--absent a few people on Fox News--all think that Bush has screwed up. Even Scarborough asks if Bush is an idiot and concludes that he lacks a curious mind.

The only people who somehow are still deluded that Bush is competent, are the 35% of the Bible belt. That seems like the only way you can still like him. You have to be able to just hold things on faith. Completely.

I can't do it. 6 years of incompetence and fear mongering.

September 15, 2006


Today was hot, but a good day. Ted Leo did not dissapoint--even ending with some kind of scrape on his face. Not sure how that happened. Guster was also great, as were Nickel Creek and Matt Nathanson. Nathanson was terrific with the audience and quite funny. Wolf Parade impressed me and was more enjoyable than I expected.


This is our 5th year, so there are certain things we now expect to see and experience.

Heat. Heat. Heat. Weird people. Funny People. The gray bearded transvestite who wears a pink thong and heels. He has been there every year.

You learn a few things after a few years. Bring sanitizing gel. Shade. Wicking clothing. Use porta-johns that are in the shade (cannot emphasize that enough!).

The brautwurst vender has excellent food, as does the sweet tea booth.

People watching is great fun. Saw a few t-shirts. The best one was very simple: "I miss Bill."

Me too.


Tomorrow? Centro-Matic (hopefully), Ben Kweller, The Shins, Calexico and then Iron & Wine (maybe).

September 14, 2006

Brief update from the land of the longhorn

Sorry to hear about the passing of Ann Richards. She was a class act and a good soul.


We are getting ready for some ACL tomorrow. Stopped by some relatives and had a real nice time with them. Tired from the driving and ready for some music. Tomorrow the headliner, as far as I am concerned, is Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.

More later.

September 12, 2006

One more

I just need the humor, I guess. This one is a bit sadder, but still funny.
A little humor

I loved Even Stephen and really enjoyed this one. I hope you will too.

All in

That, if you don't recognize it, is a poker term. I am not much of a poker player, but have played some with my reprobate friends. It is that point in a game where one player says "all or nothing."

SOF was watching something from the Bush administration and she said, "it's "all in" for them." She's right. The Bush people are going desperate, because they fear they will lose the midterm elections.

I couldn't watch Yosemite Sam last night--his speaking often makes me sick, but I read this morning that he not only continues to justify the invasion of Iraq (that doesn't surprise me) and connect it to 9-11 (also not surprising--Repubs have been invoking 9-11 to justify a lot of things), but continue to use the anniversary to launch attacks on his political rivals.
"Bush began with a two-minute tribute to the 'nearly 3,000' victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, but most of his 17-minute speech was devoted to justifying his foreign policy since that day. With his party's control of Congress at stake in elections less than two months away, Bush suggested that political opponents who are calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq would be giving victory to the terrorists."
One of the things that is most frustrating about the man is his logic. He claims that if we do not defeat these terrorists, we leave our children a Middle East that is worse off. I agree. And that is where we are right now. Bush's unwilingness to change course--fire Rumsfeld--bring in more troops, etc. has us in a place where a classified report says that we have already lost Anbar province politically. Meanwhile, I read elsewhere a constant drumbeat that the Taliban are creeping back--that even Afghanistan (remember that place?) is sinking back. I don't want to lose either, but with Bush at the helm, there seems no other option.

But that won't stop the "All In" gambit. Andrew Sullivan says he knows what Rove is intending:
"Next week, I'm informed via troubled White House sources, will see the full unveiling of Karl Rove's fall election strategy. He's intending to line up 9/11 families to accuse McCain, Warner and Graham of delaying justice for the perpetrators of that atrocity, because they want to uphold the ancient judicial traditions of the U.S. military and abide by the Constitution. He will use the families as an argument for legalizing torture, setting up kangaroo courts for military prisoners, and giving war crime impunity for his own aides and cronies."
We are going to get a steady diet of "9-11" and "your opposition helps the terrorists." These people are really unbelievable and I hope that the grownups will recognize that we need something better. I wish I could say we deserve something better. A people that re-elected Bush after torture, Iraq, and wmd really gets what it deserves.


September 11, 2006

I have been looking for a 9-11 post

In fact, I have alternated from anger to sadness most of the morning. Tonight, Keith Olbermann delivered a staunch attack on the Rove/Bush approach, and I felt the anger. I don't want to be angry about this. This morning's yoga helped tremendously, and I realized I had a choice: I could allow Bush to appeal to our worst, or I could embrace hope.

In looking around, SOF clued me to this great post from Visual VoiceVisual about another anniversary--the anniversary of 100 years since Mahatma Gandhi's introduction of the non-violent resistance movement. Gandhi's grandson had these words that I think are a good way to frame this terrible day:
"The first lesson [my grandfather] taught me was to understand anger, and being able to channel anger into positive action. He said that anger is like electricity. It is just as useful and just as powerful, if we use it intelligently. It can be just as deadly and destructive, if we abuse it. Just as we channel electricity, bring it into our lives and use it for the good of Humanity, we must learn to channel anger in the same way. We can use that energy for the good of Humanity, rather than abuse it.
~ Arun Gandhi"

September 9, 2006

How about Football?

To rescue my questionable masculinity? :)

Man, I love the fall. I love pro football on Sundays, and since moving to Norman, college football on Saturdays. I still remember the days when OU players kept getting in legal trouble, AND the offense couldn't score. The running joke was: "the best way to keep an OU football player out of your backyard was to erect a goalpost."

Things have changed since then, and OU Football is back. They won again today over a so-so Washington squad, but there were some really fun moments. Seeing Adrian Peterson run is a real joy. Some people are able to get to full speed immediately, and he seems to be one of those.

But not all of OU football is fun. I still remember SOF and I walking to watch the OU/Nebraska game (with CIL, incidentally) and being afronted by an incredibly drunk fan--this for an 11:00 am game (as I recall). He told us, very seriously, "Don't let them do it. Don't you let them do it!"

Still not sure what "it" was, but OU won that particular game, so all is forgiven. Today, I watched the post-game and found the watching difficult. Hell, the game wasn't easy. Toby Keith is the celebrity du-jour in Oklahoma, so he is the voice and image of Oklahoma. Sigh. Then they let the OU fans talk. Sigh.

That's ok. I love my adopted state. And I certainly love football--Toby Keith and all.

But a QB from Texas named "Colt?" That ain't right.

The continuing saga of a lying President

And this time about something other than sex. The Anonymous Liberal just reminds us of the many clear lies that this President continues to tell. Maybe he believes them. I don't know. But that isn't very comforting.
"In his third major address in as many days, President Bush on Thursday called for the passage of legislation authorizing his illegal NSA surveillance program. Here's what he had to say:

"Another top priority after 9/11 was improving our ability to monitor terrorist communications. Remember I told you thetwo [9/11 hijackers Hazmi and Mihdhar] had made phone callsoutside the country. At my direction, the National SecurityAgency created the Terrorist Surveillance Program. Before 9/11, our intelligence professionals found it difficult to monitor international communications such as those between the alQaeda operatives secretly in the United States and planners of the 9/11 attacks. The Terrorist Surveillance Program helps protect Americans by allowing us to track terrorist communications, so we can learn about threats like the 9/11plot before it is too late."

What a load of bull. Any FISA judge would have instantly authorized a warrant for Hazmi or Mihdhar or any other suspected terrorist. This is especially true after the passage of the Patriot Act shortly after 9/11. Indeed, this is exactly what FISA was designed to allow. The problem before 9/11 was not that the federal government lacked the power to spy on these guys; it was that it didn't put enough effort into doing so. The President is just flat out dissembling here."
I know the President himself has difficulty with the word "dissembling" but AL means he is lying here.

On words

I am sure the torture discussion will continue. But now, something completely different. On Les' blog he has been discussing a rather interesting issue. There appears to be some angst within evangelical ciricles that perhaps the church has "feminized" the gospel to the point that men no longer feel welcome in the church.

I objected to this immediately, since this is one of the oldest refrains in American church history. This exact discussion about masculinity could come from the time of Teddy Roosevelt or earlier, when Christians battled over how to understand Jesus.

But my bigger beef is the terminology contained in the discussion. Without being mean spirited, I wonder if this isn't part of the problem between people who accept innerency and those who don't--because the issue of definition has yet to be resolved. Les read Dictionary definitions of feminism and masculinity, including this incredibly unhelpful definition of masculinize: "masculinize - "To give a masculine appearance or character to." Yeah, that helps.

But these questions are real ones, and I am afraid, ones that the conservative evangelical church is not likely to ask. What does it mean to be masculine? Feminine? As I posed on his blog, when I am nurturing and caring and take the time to listen to my fellow human beings, does that make me more feminine? What if my wife is brusque with someone? Is she exhibiting "masculine" tendencies?

As stupid as those questions sound, it appears to me foundational to even asking the questions about the portrayal of Christ or the male role in a church setting.

In a way, this conversation may be related to the previous post. My other SBC critic seemed only willing to take Bush at his literal words. As long as he said he didn't torture, no further questions were needed. Same, I suspect, when Bush claimed that Jesus was his favorite philosopher, and we found out that he liked to read Oswald Chambers. No need to inquire further.

Torture, continued

Tony asked some very good questions on the previous post. I started writing my response in the comments and decided to make it a post. :)

People may not believe this, but I wanted to believe that Bush was competent and moral as President. I want to believe him even now when he tells me that the US doesn't torture. His signing statement following the torture ban make me doubt him. Or when his counsel (One Al Gonzales) redefines torture so that it only applies when the techniques cause "organ failure" or death. I am not sure how to believe him when he says we don't torture. To a certain degree, it seems like a sick parotting of the Clinton "meaning of is" joke, where people can be fake buried, waterboarded, or even denied medical care for open wounds, but as long as they don't die or have organ failure, it isn't "torture."

And for those who want to justify it in some ends justifying means way, there are problems even with that. And huge problems. This long piece from Newsweek (little old now) details some of them. One of the early high value targets from Afghanistan was tortured by Egypt (sometimes we outsource our torture to others--calling it "rendering") he told tales about Al Qaeda training in Iraq on the use of chemical and biological weapons. Except it turns out that was wrong.

I suggested to a Baptist friend of mine that if Christian values didn't oppose torture, then there are no Christian values.

September 8, 2006

The Torturer in Chief

Sorry to my SBC friends--I know that many of you have internalized the Bush mantra that any criticism of King George constitutes aiding the enemy, but you have to at sometime acknowledge that your "godly man" allowed, as approved policy, techniques that would make you sick. Now, thanks to the Military (certainly with no assistance from the real torturer, the Vice Torturer, as it were) our military will not do certain things:
"Extracting information from terrorists who may know about future attacks is vital to the security of the United States, said Bush. But the rules, at least on the battlefield, have changed.

To begin with, a number of interrogation techniques are no longer to be used. Among those are forcing detainees to strip naked, to perform sexual acts or pose in a sexual manner, said Lt. Gen. John F. Kimmons, the Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence. These were techniques used in the now infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.

Hoods or sacks, as were placed over the faces of the Abu Ghraib detainees, can no longer be placed over the heads of detainees. Nor can duct tape be strapped over their eyes. Prisoners may not be beaten, submitted to shock with electricity or threatened with mock executions.

Water boarding, which simulates the sensation of drowning, is also now forbidden, as is exposing detainees to extreme temperatures -- hot or cold. Prisoners may not be deprived of food, water and medical care, and dogs cannot be used in interrogations of suspects."

My most recent vocal critic said that what had been called torture, was actually not torture, but inconvenience. You know, like having to listen to Bill O'Reilly without the benefit of a mute button or remote. My SBC friend was convinced that liberals were manufacturing this all, because all that was happening to these evil terrorists were things like "sleep deprivation." You know, like having to listen to Rush Limbaugh, or reading Ann Coulter and then trying to sleep.

Yeah, as it turns out, our people were doing nice things like waterboarding, inducing hypothermia, witholding medical care, allowing inmates to die. These were not the hijinks of a few warped Army underlings, but the organized policy of an administration that thinks they are right, therefore anything to get them to right is ok. After all, if you are getting your orders from God, torturing a few terrorists (or potential terrorists--or innocent Muslims--who the hell can tell the difference, right?) is pretty small potatoes.

I am running out of "sighs."

Conservatives unhinged, part ?

Yet another post that could be from the Onion but isn't. Michael Berube takes on Dinesh D'Souza's latest unhinged argument and he does it better than I could. But first, D'Souza is evidently arguing that the reason that Muslims hate us around the world is because our culteral left offends them, and according to D'Souza, rightfully so.

Get that? Radical muslims are actually right to hate us because of our gays and our feminists. You know, just like Reverend Jabba Falwell told us.

As Berube points out, when leftists criticize American foreign policy, we are practicing "Blame America First," but when Right Wing Assholes blame liberals, they are ....... oh, who the hell knows?

Sometimes I feel like Jack Crabb from Little Big Man: "The world was too ridiculous even to bother to live in." Ann Coulter and Billo lecture us on religion and morality (and no doubt how to use a loufa or poison a judge), D'Souza tells us that terrorists are right to hate us, and Southern Baptists tell me that George Bush is a "man of god."

Updated. Slate has this first with the title: How conservatives got Coulterized: "D'Souza's book, we are told, 'uncovers the links between the spread of American pop culture, leftist ideas, and secular values, and the rise of anti-Americanism throughout the world.'"


One of my favorite website names

Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly: reviews Billo's latest screed:
"We can't wait to get our hands on the full volume, but what we've seen so far reaffirms everything we wrote in Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly: Bill is megalomaniacal, anti-intellectual, completely out of touch with reality, and an atrocious writer to boot. We haven't seen a worse example of a vanity project since Our Socialism Centered on the Masses Shall Not Perish by Kim Jong Il."

And speaking of the loudmouth idiot, how do we find ourselves being chastized on religious/morality issues by the likes of Ann "They shot the wrong Lincoln" Coulter and Bill "Sexual Harrassment is fun" O'Reilly?

This whole torture thing

I had an interesting exchange with yet another SBC pastor over the issue of torture and our President. Though, our exchange started out rather bumpy, the dialogue was, for the most part, civil and enlightening. But not, let me add, terribly comforting.

My critic surprised me by invoking the "those who hate us will use your words as encouragement" tactic, which I vehemently rejected. I am always amazed when that is trotted out, while Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham or others can demonize Islam (clearly helping the cause of the terrorists, btw) and escape conservative criticism.

He seemed quite insistent that the Abu Ghraib stuff--while awful--was really mostly a problem because Bush haters had used it against him. He seemed to also repeat the conservative line that Bush has not endorsed torture and that much of what has been called torture is not actually torture. I pointed out that the Pres and Veep both subverted the Senate's effort to ban torture, and then used signing statements to ignore them. My critic seemingly ignored those issues, or maybe he just thought they were relics of Les' so-called "liberal media."

When I looked back over my blog, I saw just how much I have been writing about torture over the last several years. And much of that has been asking why conservative evangelicals have been so silent on this issue. Sure, they admit it is wrong to torture others, but that seems to always be followed with a caveat about the nature of our enemies.

Well, this morning, I saw this LA Times story:
"The Army, morally and culturally averse to using unorthodox interrogation methods, will get out of the business of using tough tactics against detainees under the compromise. The new Army field manual authorizes only 19 interrogation techniques and bans the most controversial tactics that critics said amounted to torture -- hooding prisoners, conducting mock executions, and strapping detainees to boards and using water to simulate drowning.

But the CIA will reserve the right to use the tougher tactics. Bush said such methods had been effective in getting some of the 14 top Al Qaeda suspects held by the agency to talk. Administration officials said the CIA tactics would be legal and fall well short of torture and abuse. But the president and others have pointedly refused to say what those tougher methods might be."

Add to that fake burials and you see what our people have been doing to other human beings. And I can actually accept (though not endorse) that this kind of thing happens in war. Intelligence gathering can be a horrible undertaking and ugly to see. But what bothers me the most is that these people want to legitimize it and are getting support from the clergy. I am still amazingly bothered by the image of Jesus in the interrogation room, sitting outside the limited light, watching stoically while humans are tortured. It has no place in my view of God, but seems somehow possible to others.

Since we are talking about our President and torture, I saw this exchange over at Sully's blog, between readers and reporter Dana Priest:
"Foxboro, Mass: I'm confused.Bush made this bold statement that the US doesn't torture that I thought should have already happened. Yet water boarding of prisoners has been documented. Did he miss the memo?

Dana Priest: Okay, under the rules in which the CIA was operating--rules judged by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel to be legal--waterboarding was not considered torture. If you read the so-called Torture Memo of August 2002, you'll see that torture, as defined by the OLC there mean only techniques that cause severe mental or physical damage, organ failure or death. Water boarding does not cause such damage, does not result in organ failure or death. that's what the interpretation would be. Note: The DOJ repudiated the memo once it became public."

See, that is the problem of the Orwellian President. Change the definitions of torture and then you can say you aren't torturing.

Let me say once again (mostly for my own sanity) that the fact that evangelicals bend over backwards to excuse Bush on this issue is one of the most shameful moments in evangelical history since the last time they excused immoral behavior and endorsed segregation.

September 7, 2006

Well, this is interesting

And positive. According to some recent polling Southern women breaking up with Bush:
"'I think history will show him to be the worst president since Ulysses S. Grant,' said Barbara Knight, a self-described Republican since birth and the mother of three. 'He's been an embarrassment.'

In the heart of Dixie, comparisons to Grant, a symbol of the Union, are the worst sort of insult, especially from a Macon woman who voted for Bush in 2000 but turned away in 2004."

Let's just hope that more people come to Ms. Knight's pov than this woman:
Still, some Southern women remain stalwart supporters of the president and the Republican Party. At a watermelon festival in Chickamauga, in the mountains of northwest Georgia, substitute teacher Clydeen Tomanio said she remains committed to the party she's called home for 43 years.

"There are some people, and I'm one of them, that believe George Bush was placed where he is by the Lord," Tomanio said. "I don't care how he governs, I will support him. I'm a Republican through and through."

Placed. Where. He. Is. By. The. Lord.

What does that say about the Lord?

A "sigh" and a postive note--all in the same article.

Today I want to be more hopeful

And at some point, I will have to simply turn away from our President and focus on something positive. It is hard. Yesterday, I felt more ashamed to be American than ever before. Today, I feel only marginally better.

What can I say about our President? Besides the fact that he is a complete ass. Yesterday, our thoughtless leader admitted that the CIA secret prisons actually exist and went on to defend our treatment of detainees:
"Bush insisted that the detainees were not tortured.

'I want to be absolutely clear with our people, and the world: The United States does not torture,' Bush said. 'It's against our laws, and it's against our values. I have not authorized it, and I will not authorize it.'"

Yeah, I don't believe that for an instance. He has authorized it in the past and has worked with his thuggish AG to redefine the terms to allow more torture. His VP fought tooth and nail against a bill banning torture. As Andrew Sullivan notes, approved procedures for the CIA do include "waterboarding" and "induced hypothermia" or other such techniques once used by the USSR against people like Solzhenitsyn.

Bush then went on to push for fast approval of his military mock trials tribunals where inmates could be convicted on secret evidence. You know, like they do in China and other repressive countries. Where they come out and say, "you are guilty and we have the evidence. We won't tell you what the evidence is, or show it to you, but we know you are guilty and we are going to kill you."

I have some hopes that there are still sane Republicans in the congress, but their numbers are few. Lindsey Graham at least recognizes that our treatement of detainees will come back to haunt us, and challenged Americans to consider how they would feel if their sons or daughters were tried using such methods.

It isn't easy, however. The American people continue to be skeptical of the Prez, but also slowly incorporating his lies. Some 65% of Republicans believe that Saddam was involved in 9-11. Why? Because the President and his people have lied about it continually. Even this week: "Bush to Katie Couric today: 'One of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror.'

Todd Gitlin is incredulous:

I am not making this up.

Then the President of the United States hesitated for a fraction of a second--perhaps he half-realized what had just come out of his mouth--and so he went on: 'I believe it, but the American people have got to understand that a defeat in Iraq, in other words if this government there fails, the terrorists will be emboldened, the radicals will topple moderate governments. I truly believe that this is the ideological struggle of the 21st century. And the consequences for not achieving success are dire.'

The truth came first. Spontaneously.

As the man said: It's a hard job, being president of the United States."

Never fear, though. Our President will continue to push for his unconstitutional and immoral policies, and he will accuse those of us who disagree of being more like the Nazi sympathizers.

He is clearly the worst President this country has ever seen. I can't even think of anyone close.

September 6, 2006

Yep, I am in a mood

Stories like this: Senate rejects limits on cluster bombs - Yahoo! News don't exactly help. Yeah, and then Bush goes around parotting Rumsfeld that Al Qaeda is realy Hitler in a cave. What an idiot.

Someday I believe I am going to get my apology. The one from all the Republicans who voted for this guy twice, and then have stood back and allowed the castrated congress to forget even basic Constitutional oversight. Something like this:

Dear Streak,

I am writing to apologize for the fiasco that was the George W. Bush presidency, and my part in it. I feel ok about my vote in 2000 because I truly thought Gore was a dweeb and that Bush actually meant it when he said Jesus was his "favorite philosopher." I naively thought that meant he would attempt to act more like Christ. Clearly, I was wrong.

And I continued that error in 2004 by reelecting the man who oversaw, defended, and attempted to redefine torture; invaded two countries and then undercut both efforts while at the same time talking about invading other countries like Syria and Iran; gutted our national safety net with irresponsible tax policies; ignored our Constitution on numerous occasions--actually declaring that he didn't intend or have to follow laws he himself signed; so fucked up our emergency management to the level that federal response to Katrina in the modern age was slower and more inefficient than Hoover's response to the 1927 Mississippi flood.

Oh, and then he started comparing his opponents to people who didn't want to fight Hitler.

I am truly, truly, truly sorry. Someday, we will get our democracy back. I hope.

Your friend

That old "liberal media"

The Anonymous Liberal reminds us of how the right wing killed a docudrama on Reagan because it portrayed him badly in parts. Now, ABC plans to air a docudrama that blames 9-11 on Clinton, and there are plans in the works to hand out free dvds to high school teachers to make sure that the wingnut perspective is taught.

Les, maybe you can remind me again where the so-called "liberal media" is, again? Can you imagine the outcry if that same film focused on Bush sitting moroningnly while someone read him a memo about UBL wanting to hijack planes inside the US?


Garrison Keillor's wisdom strikes again

Keillor suggests that Americans are overly convinced of our invincibility.
"The fury of the right wing is quite remarkable -- to maintain a sense of persecution after years of being in power is like Donald Trump feeling overlooked -- but life goes on.

We really are one people at heart. We all believe that when thousands of people are trapped in the Superdome without food or water, it is the duty of government, the federal government if necessary, to come to their rescue and to restore them to the civil mean and not abandon them to fate. Right there is the basis of liberalism. Conservatives tried to introduce a new idea -- it's your fault if you get caught in a storm -- and this idea was rejected by nine out of 10 people once they saw the pictures. The issue is whether we care about people who don't get on television.


I don't get much hope from Democrats these days, a timid and skittish bunch, slow to learn, unable to sing the hymns and express the steady optimism that is at the heart of the heart of the country. I get no hope at all from Republicans, whose policies seem predicated on the Second Coming occurring in the very near future. If Jesus does not descend through the clouds to take them directly to paradise, and do it now, they are going to have to answer to the rest of us."

September 5, 2006

Does this hood make me look fat?

Though we didn't talk about it here, Senator (and GOP Presidential hopeful) George Allen got into a little trouble when he referred to an Indian American photographer as "Macaca" which most people agree was a racial slur. Allen has apologized, but as it turns out, he may have more apologies coming. This picture of Allen mugging with the Council of Conservative Citizens is trouble. For those who don't know, this organization is the cleaned up version of the old segregationist White Citizen's Councils that ruled the segregated South. These are the real problem people, because they were the business and political leaders who combined to make sure that African Americans stayed "in their place." Read Local People by John Dittmer if you want more on this.

This is the Republican problem. The Southern strategy is oft mentioned, but the reality of it just as often avoided. The GOP of Bush and Dobson is also the GOP of the racist South--people who believe the Civil War isn't over and that Lincoln was a tyrant and that slavery wasn't bad. No doubt, the Democratic party has its problems with race. But the GOP has made racism its winning ticket and the Religious Right doesn't want to acknowledge that. They want to focus on the gays and the abortions and ignore that their great Republican leaders are meeting with people who think that the Civil Rights Act was a huge mistake.

Odd parallels

I wonder if Iranian president Ahmadinejad has read Horowitz's The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America.

Both seem to want liberals out of the colleges.

September 4, 2006

Republican credibility

Following the previous post: Republicans fought Clinton's attempt to enhance security but Clinton at least followed the law:
"So Bill Clinton, rather than just breaking the law as Bush did (then again, perhaps this is why Bush broke the law - he knew from history that the Republicans controlling the congress would oppose his efforts to expand wiretapping), decided to go to the Republican congress in 1996 and ask them for increased authority to do more eavesdropping in order to stop the terrorists - stop September 11. "

Almost like an Onion article, but not

CNN - President wants Senate to hurry with new laws - July 30, 1996 : "Hatch called Clinton's proposed study of taggants -- chemical markers in explosives that could help track terrorists -- 'a phony issue.'

'If they want to, they can study the thing' already, Hatch asserted. He also said he had some problems with the president's proposals to expand wiretapping."

Isn't that interesting?

Onion Moon Landing

I can't emphasize enough that this video is not for everyone. If you don't like swearing (and a lot of it) then don't click it. But if you don't mind the f-word (and others) then this is pretty hilarious.

September 2, 2006

More right wing asshattery

Blame this post on CIL who alerted me to this outrageous Worldnet Daily column attacking the abortion clinic planned by Ogalala in South Dakota, cleverly entitled, "Sioux tribe plans to scalp its own." Nice, eh?

Make no mistake about it, I am as uneasy with abortion as any liberal can be. I think Ms. Stanek refuses, however to acknowledge that this plan is in response to what most see as an unreasonable law, but I don't have a problem with her attacking the plan.

What I do object to is the blatant racism she employs in her rhetoric. From the title to stereotypical references, she employs bigotry to advance her argument.
"In 1876, the Oglala Sioux were responsible for massacring Gen. George Custer and his men at Little Bighorn, mutilating and scalping them as they went.

What a difference 130 years make. Today the Oglala Sioux plan to massacre their own children, mutilating and scalping them as they go."
Nice, eh? Poor Custer.

This is bigotry, pure and simple, and Ms. Janek is a racist.

The right is unhinged

I had lost track of the story of the two Fox reporters captured in Gaza, and only remembered hearing the good news that they had been returned safe. Evidently, that is good news only for normal people. David Warren calls these men cowards who should have taken a bullet rather than appease these terrorists. He says that, of course, from the safety of his laptop.

Glenn Greenwald really looks at this issue of conservatives who like others to die for them. Jon Swift's post, entitled Kidnapped Fox Newsmen Let Us Down By Not Dying, fully exposes how idiotic this is. In fact, we have to note, that Jon Swift's normal satire is muted here. How do you satire people who are so ridiculous as to chastize captives for not dying?

Read their posts and weep for our Republic. With conservatives like this, we are more like our enemies than we thought. Replete in the conservative rant is the call for people to martyr themselves for Christ in this battle. How familiar is that?

September 1, 2006

Say it ain't so

Hat tip to Anglican for this story about Thomas Kinkade, the very popular Christian artist and how business and Christianity sometimes mix in a toxic way:
"The ex-owners allege in arbitration claims that, among other things, the artist known for his dreamily luminous landscapes and street scenes used his Christian faith to persuade them to invest in the independently owned stores, which sell only Kinkade's work.

'They really knew how to bait the hook,' said one former dealer who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case. 'They certainly used the Christian hook.'"
That is the thing Christians should find terrifying--that people would use their faith for profit.

This is pretty funny

Kevin Powell points us to this website where someone warns us about Apple's secret agenda to convert your kids to homosexuality, drug use, and other un american activities. That's right. A major corporation has, as an agenda, to promote drug use and "switching" from straight to gay.

But if the kids are too doped up on the weed and having gay sex, when will they have time to buy Apple products?

Seems pretty counter productive to me. But then again, I am writing this on AN APPLE COMPUTER! Egads

Keith is on a roll

His Worst Person in the World segment is pretty funny (evidently a book coming), but this one is hilarious. Ann Coulter says of Lincoln Chaffee, "They shot the wrong Lincoln;" Sean Hannity (perhaps the dumbest member of the loud right) says that keeping Nancy Pelosi from being Speaker is worth "fighting and dying," and Conrad Burns says that terrorists drive cabs during the day and kill people at night.

Add to that the Republican who sponsored the Ten Commandments bill but can't name them and of course, our wonderful leader who can't, well, speak, think, or walk clearly, and you have serious questions about the arsenic level in Republican wells--if you know what I mean.